Sunday 12 July 2015

Health Advice: A Cowardly Source Of Government Waste

I was planning to write something about this Telegraph article at some point after a busy weekend because it looks set to be the nanny state story of the week.
Adults and children should be instructed by the Government to halve the amount of sugar they consume and eat almost twice as much pasta, potato and other fibrous foods, an official report is expected to say this week. 
In a bid to tackle an epidemic of obesity and tooth decay, the Department of Health will be urged by its scientific advisers to reduce the amount of sugar allowed in the official definition of a healthy diet.
I have used some emphasis on a couple of words there, which I will come back to later.

The donkey work of what I intended to say, though, has been covered by bloggers elsewhere. Grandad points out that this is a jaw-dropping load of arsebiscuitry on the part of the state.
They can advise me all they like and I shall take their advice and shove it in the bin where it belongs, but the very concept of a gubmint telling me what I can and cannot eat is frankly so hilarious that it's up there with the Monty Python sketches.
Indeed. Advice is the only thing state agencies should be giving, anything else is totalitarianism.

But then, who really gives a rat's arse what government advice is for alcohol consumption? The 'limits' are so laughably low that they are widely ignored, to the chagrin of vile alcohol-haters everywhere. If the state really wants to moderate consumption to maximise health, perhaps it would be better if the advice was linked in some way to real life and the public's experiences, instead of being 'plucked out of the air' as a sop to hideous, anti-social, highly-paid career temperance lobbyists.

The 'advice' in this case is equally incoherent, so will be treated in the same contemptuous manner by those of us who know bullshit when we see it.
A weekly diet plan based on meeting the recommendations included no fizzy drinks. The British Nutrition Foundation said only very low or zero calorie versions might be squeezed in by people who sacrificed food elsewhere. 
Its analysis, which will also be published later this week, found space for just four squares of dark chocolate, two chocolate biscuits and a small packet of crisps as "treats" allowed during a normal week. 
To meet the larger fibre recommendations, most people would naturally turn to wholemeal bread, breakfast cereals, and pasta, it said. 
But eating large quantities of these foods would push most people above the Govenrment's targets for salt, sugar and overall energy intake.
By having so many public sector tax scroungers to support, government is now issuing so much advice that it is fundamentally worthless. No-one understands it, so no-one will observe it, and even if they do it will have a negligible chance of doing what the state hopes - in its blithe stupidity - it was designed to do.

However, unintended consequences will run riot to the detriment of just about everybody. Simon Cooke sagely predicts what will actually happen, because we've seen it all happen exactly like this before.
Let's predict what will happen here. Firstly all the headlines will be about sugar with the myths and lies reinforced across the media. Stories (as with this story) will be illustrated with pictures of the evil white stuff further stressing the emphasis on sugar. Nice middle-class families will cut out the sugar replacing it with other sources of energy - fruit, bread, pasta and so forth. And then get surprised when they are neither slimmer nor healthier as a result. 
At the same time government agencies from local council public health departments and GPs through to schools, hospitals and prisons will start enforcing the 'guidelines' as if they are hard and fast rules. Perfectly slim and healthy children will have chocolate bars snatched from their hands by teachers, hospital food will sink to new levels of utter uselessness, and hordes of clipboard-wielding nannies will fan out across the nation trying to force every establishment serving food to 'offer healthy options', remove salt and serve less sugar. Those cafe sugar dispensers will be banned as rufty-tufty builders have to fight with a rationed dollop of sugar in an inconvenient and wasteful paper sachet. 
Meanwhile the triumphant fussbuckets will - even more shrilly than now - begin to shout about the need for a sugar tax or a soda tax. MPs will be inundated with deliberate misinformation from Action on Sugar while behind the scenes that shocking liar Simon Stevens (who runs the NHS) will agitate a ministers for "something to be done" about obesity. And that something will be a sugar tax - despite there being no link between overall sugar consumption (which has fallen) and obesity.
Quite. It's a well-known concept called mission creep.

Because this is the real and dangerous problem we are faced with in our country (and others) now. If a minister stood up in parliament and announced that a new law was being created to instruct the public not to consume what they like, and that they would not be allowed by law to consume the products they choose to - the Restricted Foods Act 2015 or some such -  there would be justifiable outrage. The global press would, quite rightly, ridicule the minister as being on a par with Kim Jong Il and I don't think he or she would last in post for more than a few days.

However, a network of disgusting and socially illiterate public sector tards has been created on the public payroll to misconstrue what should only be advice, thereby fucking up life in general for people who are generally very able to make their own decisions. In fact, far more astutely than quangos and NGOs because - incredibly - they know far more detail about themselves and their families than some state-paid throbber looking at population data and junk science from tax troughers like themselves.

If politicians want to instruct the country to eat what they tell us to, and only allow prescribed weekly amounts of products to be consumed, create a law about it. Have the balls to put their reputations and careers on the line by demanding it through legislation, technology is advanced enough to enforce it through swipeable smart cards, RFID etc.

If, however, they mean it to be benign advice and they truly believe in basic freedom of the individual to consume what the individual freely chooses, slash the network of self-serving arseholes who pump out incontinent and inept restrictions and regulations just so their pig ugly wife/husband/dog can have another facelift at the taxpayers' expense.

The government says we are spending too much as a nation; that we require austerity. Well, there are quite literally billions to be saved by defunding these hysterical, fact-free cranks and re-educating state agencies that advice does not give the public sector carte blanche to make up totalitarian rules.

We'd all be better off without the lot of them and arguably healthier and happier as a result.


moonrakin said...

Yeah well ... one could call it mission creep - heck, the creep bit is right...

One could say that when you're holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail... - or perhaps when the taxpayer is funding everything is a free lunch...

How many of the 18 members of the SACN have ideal BMI and are adhere to the tenets they presume to impose on the plebs - if they anything like the fat twerp the Irish have as health minister (Grandad's fave ) - likely none....

The towering self regard and suffocating "process" that suffuse every step these people take to make it appear that they are telling all you little people these things for your own good - because they know better ...

One could also say that the recruitment of status seeking pompous twerps who should be addressing real problems like people somewhere else starving or actual preventable diseases let's say like Dengue fever, malaria ?

They'll nitpick, cherry pick, conflate and torture statistics on their way to rewarding themselves handsomely - and then they'll demand increased budgets and more nannies...

There's reasons the clinicians shoved the public health twerps out of the NHS mainstream - and we are now beginning to see some of them.

This lot need cutting down to size big time before we're all issued with RFID tags which double as "ration cards" at the shop... Am I overstating it? -> NO because a number of "leading lights" have already said that's what they want to do....

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Good point about RFID, will edit. ;)

moonrakin said...

I'd like to enroll them all in a clinical trial for the fecal transplant attitude adjustment research - that Grandad posted about earlier.

Steven Shone said...

Unusually I must demur. Government giving health advice is *worse* than actual prohibition. As you say if they prohibited sugar or whatever else they are currently pretending to panic about to justify their rent seeking there would be an uprising. So there would have to be sensible debate and some respect paid to public opinion. Accepting that public servants have a right to advise their masters elevates them to a position of moral superiority and is the very mistake that led to this water torture of sanctimony funded by force in the first place.

If there is a public health issue then government should intervene. If ever-changing advice about private health changes yet again then public servants should use their own judgement and respectfully leave us to use ours. As Montesquieu said, "If it is not necessary to make a law, it is necessary not to make a law". And if no law is to be made, there is no legitimate rôle for lawmakers, their employees or contractors.

You are very right though to say that the idea we have "austerity" when government has billions to spend on stuff best left to our mums is a joke.